If you read this title you are probably planning to travel by your bicycle via airplane, train, or bus. If you have, then you know how important it is that you properly know how to box a bike to minimize the risk of damage or loss.
When you’re traveling with your bicycle, and it’s out of your hands, you must accept the fact that your bicycle isn’t going to be treated the way you always treat it, gently and with care. More than likely, your bicycle will probably be dropped, stacked high in cargo bins, and handled roughly. You should never travel with your bicycle unless it is properly boxed.
Some airlines provide special boxes to pack your bicycle, and they require advanced notice that you’ll be transporting your bicycle. If you are not provided with a box, you can usually get one from bicycle shops. Also, if you don’t know how to box a bike, and you’re attempting to do so for the first time, it’s important to realize it takes time, so don’t start the process 20 minutes before you intend to leave for your trip. Read ahead to learn how to box a bike like an expert, and you’ll be ready to travel in no time.
Disassembling Your Bicycle
- Make the cables slack by shifting the gears.
- Deflate the tires partway for extra shock-absorbing power.
- Remove the seat and the post, but keep it together as one unit.
- Remove the front wheel. Tape a block of wood between the front fork dropouts to prevent the fork blades from bending.
- Rotate the handlebars and remove the handlebars and stem as a unit. Pull the stem out of the steering tube. Retighten the stem bolt so it doesn't get lost during transport.
- Remove the pedals.
- Attach the front wheel to the right side of the frame with tape or rope, making sure to pad between the two with cardboard or packing material. Tape the crank arms parallel to the box bottom.
- Tape packing material in place over the exposed front axle end and the end of the rear axle to prevent them from puncturing the box.
- Unbolt the rear derailleur, but do not disconnect the cable. Tape it to the rear wheel spokes. Tape packing material around the derailleur.
Did you know...?
Did you know that when you bring your bicycle on board a plane, most airlines will make you sign a form indemnifying them from any possible damage to your bicycle?
This means that if your bicycle gets damaged during the baggage handling process, you're not going to be compensated. Thus, make sure you strictly adhere to our tips on boxing your bicycle.
Preparing Your Box
If you are just learning how to box a bike, you may want to check with a bicycle shop for specific instructions. Also, if you're flying, you will want to check with the airline to determine if they have any specific box requirements before you spend the time to prepare your bike and box for travel.
- Cut some extra cardboard to form tightly rolled tubes in your box. These tubes will absorb forces and shock to prevent the box walls from collapsing. Place one tube near the lower end of the front fork, two tubes through the rear wheel, one through the front wheel spokes, and anywhere else the box needs extra stability. Tape each tube in place.
- Lower the bicycle into the box and pad any fragile or sharp parts.
- Wrap the saddle, pedals, and other loose parts in packing material and secure them inside the box. You may also want to pack the tools necessary to reassemble your bicycle.
- Seal the box with tape and label it with your name, destination, and home address.
Now that you have learned how to box a bike, you are ready for a great adventure! Some of the best vacations you'll ever take are with your bicycle, so once you have learned how to box your bike, you have no excuses to not take your bicycling vacation!
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